President's Message: March 2019

Moving Forward With the Baton

Frede Blaabjergby Frede Blaabjerg

From 1985 to 1987, I was a master’s student at Aalborg University, Denmark, working with power electronics and field vector-oriented control of electrical drives. The switching frequency was 20 kHz to make the drive silent, and we were using a combination of MOSFETs and bipolar transistors to obtain such speed in the power stage. Simultaneously, by sampling around 5 kHz, the processor was pushed to the limit by using the Assembler software. At that time, all of the technology we utilized was the state of the art. Today, we are talking about an order of magnitude higher in problem-free switching and sampling frequency, which indicates that the power electronics technology is still moving forward and  generating new opportunities for the IEEE Power Electronics society (PELS).

In my opinion, the technology is far from being a commodity. We have a lot of future opportunities. Thirty years ago, IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics began as well as ELS). With this issue of IEEE Power Electronics Magazine, I take over from Prof. Alan Mantooth to become the IEEE PELS President, a position in which I am very humbled and honored to serve but also looking forward to perform.

Alan has done a tremendous job the last two years in office. I will have to run fast to be able to keep pace with him. Our technology, however, is so important for the Society that I have no problem finding the motivation to spend the required time to serve as PELS president.

Although the Society is extremely healthy in vision, activities, and economy, my instinctive feeling is that we can always do better by adding more activities and new initiatives to further improve our service to our members. Here, I will mention a few areas I have in mind to focus on for the next two years.

PELS is a Society that emphasizes values like inclusiveness, respect, opportunities, and high technical level, and demonstrates these values in places such as conferences, workshops, journals, standards, and our committees, just to mention some of them. All are very welcome to join and contribute to the Society, make professional connections, and more. We offer many excellent workshops and conferences, which are continuously becoming better and more attractive. PELS should continue to be the leading organization in power electronics technology, both for industry and academics. In that context, I would like to see PELS offer more web-based opportunities for its members, such as webinars, online conferences, and courses.

Our publications are doing an outstanding job, and the growth continues in pages, submissions, and impact factor. The acceptance rate is the same, meaning we are receiving more papers per year, which also indicates how fast our technology is moving. There is also a demand that more publications offer open access in some countries. Consequently, in late 2019, or, at the latest, in 2020, we plan to launch a fully open access power electronics journal with a fast review time and no hardcopy for rapid publication.

Today, PELS has seven technical committees, which are doing very well in different disciplines. The number of committees should ensure that any PELS member can find at least one committee of interest to provide an opportunity for member interaction and networking. Going forward, we are going to look at these committees to see if more should be established.

There is a great amount of young talent in power electronics, and the Society will aim to empower it. We will achieve this through scholarships, mentorship programs, and Young Professionals activities, as well as engage them with the Society, since they are the leaders of tomorrow. At an early stage, PELS could initiate PhD schools that feature some of the most prolific peers in the field while also enticing more volunteers into the Society and   involving young talent in other Society duties.

Bigger is not necessarily better for our Society, but both industry and academia are growing   and will continue to do so; thus, the goal is to pass 10,000 members next year – at a sustainable pace. Some regions have a huge potential for growth. In those areas, we should ensure that the Society is offering opportunities for the new members so that they can continue their Society membership. We also want to form new Chapters all over the world to support power electronics technology engineers.

We have many emerging technology areas (with more to come) that should be further developed.  For example, the grid will be fully power electronics based (e-Grid) and our transportation much more electrified. Wireless charging is moving very quickly, and software tools for design automation are creating new opportunities. Reliability engineering is also the next big challenge. These serve as examples of areas where PELS needs to be agile.

It is also important to involve industry as much as possible, as the industry is leading many power electronics areas already, and these areas will receive even more attention. In some of these activities, standards may also be important to drive the technology further.

In our Society, we have many important initiatives that should continue to grow. One is Empower a Billion Lives, where new technical solutions are needed to bring electricity to areas where it is currently unavailable. Empower a Billion Lives is a competition that runs on a two-year cycle on every continent. More volunteers are needed for this initiative. In addition, where needed, the Society will develop new standards related to power electronics and be a leader in road mapping the technology by involving both the industry and academia. A good example of this is the technology road map for wide bandgap devices in which PELS has a key role. This could receive a broader scope in terms of technology and applications.

The Society has so much to offer. So, if you feel that you would like to volunteer and contribute,  please contact me or our other officers in PELS, and we will get you involved!